The Sandpit

Greetings, everyone! I’m Helen and a new contributor. Like the other lovely four in the group, I’m a mom, teacher, and writer. But I did things a little backwards – I self-published my first novel this summer and then joined a critique group. (And that’s a whole other story.) 

I attended a writer’s workshop this past weekend featuring Brodi Ashton and Lindsey Leavitt. Both Brodi and Lindsey made clear that their author journeys were not straight shots. Maybe they were more like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too’s circuitous journey in the Hundred Acre Woods that kept bringing Pooh and Piglet back to the sandpit over and over again. But Brodi and Lindsey did eventually make it past the sandpit, out of the dark woods, and publish their books. And publish some more. 

Most memorable sandpit moment for me? It was almost three years ago when I sent my first draft of my novel (yes, you read that correctly – my FIRST DRAFT) to a big-name author who had offered to give it a full critique. He was doing me a favor because he was best friends in college with my boyfriend from grad school (yes, I knew this author that well), and I was so naive that I had NO idea what a big favor this was. I whipped my MS off to him, having grandiose dreams of him calling me right away. I fantasized that he’d tell me that he had given it to his agent and that they were arranging for a 3-book deal and were already in negotiations to sell the movie rights. I think it might have been 6 weeks later that I got an e-mail from him that read something like, “I’ve read up to page 116, and I think I need to stop there, because (insert all of the horrific things that were terrible about it).” I remember the feeling in my chest when I read that e-mail – I believe the word is “crushing”. But I will be forever grateful to this author because he gave me THE most useful suggestions that made it possible for me to walk away from the sandpit. 

I recently went back to read the draft that I sent that author (now a friend) and I think my skin literally crawled because of exactly how terrible it really was. That wasn’t the only trip I made to the sandpit. But I can honestly say each time I’ve stumbled and gotten sandy, it helped me develop into a better writer. 

As a writer, have you made any trips to the sandpit? And what do you picture as one of your ultimate destinations? Mine is to negotiate those movie rights. And maybe help to cast the actors and choose a few songs for the soundtrack. 
Hey, a girl can dream. 😉

5 thoughts on “The Sandpit

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Helen! I'm amazed by how many times I circle back to the sandpit. (I think I'm there now too.) And even though you always root for other writers to succeed, sometimes it's nice to know there are others in the sandpit with me. 🙂


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